The Top Three Ruggedized Smartphones for Construction

Which smartphones can withstand a construction site?

Construction Worker on Smartphone
Construction Worker on Smartphone. Jetta Productions/Getty Images

Scrape them against rocks, drop them from a ladder, dunk them in a cup of water—just try to destroy these phones. Ruggedized hardware, or an electronic designed for “extreme” conditions, is ideal for construction sites. The below-mentioned smartphones can withstand heavy dust, long falls, vibration, and water submersion.

Of the ruggedized smartphone market, these three options stood out for their functionality, durability, formal specs, price, and aesthetics.

Nautiz X1

The Nautiz X1 is a tiny, gorgeous and robust phone. Coming in at 4.9” x 2.6”, .6” thick, and 6.3oz, it is only slightly bigger than the iPhone 5s—making it a perfect pocket companion to those on site. But don’t let its small size call its resilience into question; the Nautiz X1 is sand-proof, water-proof, and dust-proof and has an IP67 rating.

The Nautiz X1 runs either on Android 4.01 or Microsoft Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5—great news for construction managers hoping to sync their construction management software to their device.

The Nautiz X1 offers an unimpressive 5MP camera with some customizability (saturation, flash, etc.) which can also capture video at up to a 1280 x 720 pixel 720p format.

Price: $899 


The CAT B15Q is, as far as ruggedized hardware goes, a good-looking phone. And it’s durable—in fact, it’s one of the most robust on the market. CAT promises that the phone is so macho that it can dust off a 6’ drop the same way Bane would dust off a blow to the chest.

In other words, the CAT B15Q was built with construction sites in mind.

The CAT B15Q’s aluminum and rubber shell is built for survival. At 14.95mm thick, this phone is not light, but its case could probably survive a day in the life of a baseball or a pool toy. It will not break on site.

The phone’s innards are wouldn’t “wow” any tech nerd.

Offering Android 4.4 KitKat, a dual-core 1.3 GHz processor, 3G, and 1GB of RAM, the CAT B15Q would have impressed back in 2013. But with that said, the CAT B15 is entirely capable of running all the important apps a construction worker would want to have on site—it will just run slower than the S5 Active and the Nautiz X1.

Price: $359.00

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

While not as hardy as the CAT B15Q, the Galaxy S5 Active brings consumer electronics to the construction world. The phone is massive, coming in at 5.72” x 2.89” and six ounces, but offers a gorgeous display (1080 x 1920 pixels), a high-quality camera (16MP), and runs on Android KitKat. The S5 is at the top-of-the-line for everyday smartphones, and, unlike the ruggedized S4 model, Samsung made no compromises with the S5 Active.

Best of all, the phone is relatively cheap. Use it as your everyday phone with a plan from AT&T, and the phone’s initial cost drops down to about half the price of other ruggedized phones.

Unlike the CAT B15Q or the Nautiz X1, users will have to be a little more careful with their ruggedized S5. The phone, while still carrying an IP67 certification, can handle a short splash of water or a tumble down a ladder, but not much else.

Price: $149.99 (with two year contract)


While these three phones stand out as the top ruggedized smartphones for construction, there are lots of other options as well—the CASIO G’zOne Commando 4G LTE, for example, meets military specifications for ruggedness and can be operated through gloves. But for their price and capabilities, the Nautiz X1, CAT B15Q, and Samsung Galaxy S5 Active are the best ruggedized smartphones available on the market today.